Understanding underdevelopment through the sustainable livelihoods approach

This article presents an understanding of the effectiveness of the sustainable livelihoods approach in development. The article begins with a background to the sustainable livelihoods approach (SLA) outlining its origins. Using the DFID's framework, the article further explains why the SLA can only be seen as an approach and not as a theory. The article uses the example of South Africa during the settler colonial period to illustrate the importance of structures and processes in the allocation of resources. Apartheid South Africa is used to illustrate how institutions can stifle development instead of promoting it, and therefore set in the conditions of underdevelopment. In this regard, the article argues that the settler colonial regime in South Africa embarked on a deliberate and purposive exercise to underdevelop the indigenous African populations. In the analysis, the paper shows how the various areas of the sustainable livelihoods framework contribute to achieve specific livelihoods outcomes. The article ends with a short criticism of the sustainable livelihoods approach.